The huge crowds attending Wired magazine's NextFest, a hip, interactive science fair held in San Francisco May 14-16, were wowed by technologies and ideas. From draping, powering and lighting the space to providing sound, video, and IT technologies to the exhibitors, San Francisco-based event production company DaVinci Fusion was involved in virtually every aspect of getting this show up and running over the eight months prior to NextFest's opening day.

Wired magazine charged DaVinci Fusion with creating an edgy, futuristic environment for six experiential pavilions and over 100 exhibits from leaders in global R&D. As the event's producer and production company, DaVinci Fusion transformed the 50,000 sq. ft. Festival Pavilion at Fort Mason Center into a window to the future where more than 23,000 people got “up close and personal” with the exciting and emerging technologies.

A dark, tunnel-like portal (designed by New York's Tronic Studio), ushered incoming visitors through a fog screen, layers of motion graphics projected on gauze, and a complex directional sound environment that changed as their journey progressed. As they reached the end of the tunnel, visitors passed through a second fog screen bearing their own images, which grew bigger as they approached, until they walked through them into the exhibition space which was aglow with innovative, organic lighting that bathed the six experiential pavilions, designed by Tronic Studio and fabricated by Adelphi Productions of Alameda, CA, which housed the pedestal-mounted exhibits.

Although much of DaVinci Fusion's work was essentially behind the scenes, one of the most visible aspects was their lighting design for the six experiential pavilions, or pods. The pods, three occupying 4,000 sq. ft. each and another three measuring 2,000 sq. ft. each, were architecturally noteworthy themselves. Comprised of what looked like pie-shaped wedges cut from an aluminum-framed hemispherical structure, each pod was configured differently. Their curved walls were covered with a gauze skin that was painted with soft hues of light color-keyed to the theme of each pod. The subtle, computerized kinetic lighting gave the structures texture and lent an organic feel to the entire space providing a nice contrast to the hard-edged technology on display.

The entire Festival Pavilion was draped on a moving truss system for ease of installation, hiding its walls and windows and illuminating the interior with custom-built geometrically shaped configurations of pipes and truss to accommodate lighting positions, each with its own attitude. The pods' ambient light sources, housed in specially built structures, were supplemented by ellipsoidal spots or MR16 display lights depending on the needs of the exhibits.

Among the lighting equipment used were two Leprecon VX 48 × 2.4kw dimmer racks, a Jands Echelon Control Board; 212 ETC Source Four® 575W PARs, 146 Source Four® Ellipsoidal Spotlights, 30 L&E single cell Far cycs, and 150 CPI low voltage exhibit lights. Housing the lighting and other equipment was 380' of Total Structure 12" box truss, 340' of ITT 20.5" Box Truss, and 38 CM Chain Motors with various capacities.